Morrow OKs property tax increase

MORROW — A 2-mill property tax increase is heading to Morrow, but homeowners aren’t expected to feel it, said Finance Director Dan Defnall.

The Morrow City Council unanimously approved the millage rate increase, which will take the tax rate to 9.5 mills Tuesday. It will be business owners, not residents, who feel the pinch, though.

“Most of it will be on the business and commercial side because the general homeowner has a $150,000 homestead exemption,” Defnall said. “What might be our next step, in the future, is looking at rolling back some of our exemption for our homeowners, but there is very little impact right now on the homeowners.”

Defnall said the tax increase was necessary to offset a projected $1 million decrease in municipal court revenues. The city is being sued in Clayton County Superior Court over “court fees” assessed to drivers whose traffic tickets were reduced to warnings, but Defnall said that was not the reason why court revenues are projected to be down this year.

“It’s more about we’re no longer a construction zone in I-75 and (Ga. Highway) 54, traffic’s flowing much better and we have a new police chief and maybe a different approach,” Defnall said.

The city’s alternative to raising property taxes would have been to lay off employees, including police officers and fire fighters. The move is expected to increase property tax revenues by $406,525 and raise vehicle tax revenues by $31,639.

The council held a public hearing before the vote, so residents and business owners could voice their opinion on the increase. No one stood up to speak on the issue.